12 Days #2 : Nice Troll, Rokka

Rokka no Yuusha – Braves of the Six Flowers initially presents itself as a rather straightforward heroic-fantasy romp : the Dark Lord is about to reawaken, so it’s up to a new set of six heroes of legend to go and defeat him. There are some nice Mesoamerican-like trappings and animal motifs to make the show visually distinctive, but otherwise it feels like it’s going to be relatively conventional…

… Until SEVEN heroes show up at the appointed time and place, and they get stuck into a trap that looks like it could only have been purposefully triggered by one of them. So now we’re in a variation of one of my favourite genres : the closed-circle, fairplay whodunnit mystery, as the characters are trying to find out who’s the traitor. As you’d expect, this was pure catnip for me.

I won’t elaborate on the actual resolution of the mystery itself ; it was decently-executed and the journey there was entertaining enough. Its deliberately slow pacing gave ample room to develop the characters and build intriguing relationships between them. (Adlet & Hans, best bros forever !)

No, the moment that made me love the show forever comes from the coda, after the traitor has been unmasked and dealt with. Finally our six heroes can go and confront the Big Bad, as they had planned all along ! Except ANOTHER seventh hero then shows up, having arrived late to the rendezvous point. Since she has decent enough credentials , it reignites the mystery of who the fake hero is anew.

It’s a blatant trollish sequel hook, but I admire it for its brazen showmanship. It’s also the confirmation that, whatever happens next, it’ll be a continuation of those fun mind games and NOT back to the straight heroic-fantasy adventure the show had originally teased. Admittedly, sales have been dire enough for there to be little chance of a second season, but this was promising enough for me to get interested in checking out the original light novels.

Well played, Rokka.

12 Days #1 : When Kindaichi Disappointed Me

So, this year I’m trying to participate in this 12 days of anime thingie : each day until Christmas, I will be rambling about a particular moment of watching anime this year that I found memorable. Let’s kick this off with…

Well, I’ve always liked The Casefiles of Young Kindaichi. It’s not a particularly great show, but it’s got a fun gimmick, and I’ve always had a soft spot for fair-play whodunnits. But while I’ve been enjoying the recent “Returns” revivals, I had always been miffed at the unavailability of most of the original TV series beyond the first 40 episodes (out of 148). So I was delighted to recently find some very rough translations of the middle third of that series. Even though the translators were in dire need of an editor with better mastery of the English language, at least I could now watch it !

And for the most part, it’s been rewarding ; seeing the first appearances of supporting characters such as young idol Reika Hayami (who’s a big deal in Returns) or Kindaichi’s bratty kid cousin Fumi, who’s amazingly not a terrible character. And there were some good mysteries along the way, even when a bit contrived or gimmicky.

And then I reached episodes #70-73, aka The English Hotel Murder Case. And boy, what a mess this was. (Warning : some unavoidable plot spoilers about this case below.)

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